Although he was born in La Crosse and lives in Cashton, artist Buzz Balzer is quite familiar with the wildlife and landscapes of the West. That’s because for the last three years he’s been the artist in residence at Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

“I think it’s the second largest state park in the country,” Balzer said. “It’s something like 73,000 acres.”

The park is home to abundant wildlife including antelope, elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer and a bison herd. That influence is clearly seen in Balzer’s September exhibit in the Heider Center Art Gallery. It features Balzer’s oil paintings and is entitled “Cowboys, Cattle and Country: American Life.”

When it comes to the depiction of wildlife, Balzer has a resume. He’s exhibited at National Wildlife Shows in Kansas City and Charleston, S.C. and twice has been named Artist of the Year by the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, among a number of other awards.

Balzer, who grew up near Eau Claire, has been painting for a long time.

“My mom said ‘ever since I could hold a pencil,’” he said. “I was an illustrator in the Army and after I got out I got an art degree at Iowa State.”

A full-time artist, Balzer doesn’t limit himself to wildlife. He also likes the challenge of landscapes, plein air painting and portraits. This will be his first show at the Heider Center and he’s looking forward to it.

“I always enjoy displaying my art,” Balzer said.

While Balzer’s art will adorn the walls of the Heider Art Gallery, 10 photographs by Nancy Horstmann will be displayed in the gallery’s cases.

Owner of the Captured by Nancy Christine Photo Studio on South Leonard Street in West Salem, Horstmann describes her exhibit as “an amalgamation of photos that I’ve taken.”

She said the exhibit was inspired by the story of Peter Pan and his somewhat independent shadow and by a television ad she saw where people looking in a mirror saw themselves as different than they really were.

The photos all have a person or an animal in the foreground while the “shadow” is doing something else in the background.

Horstmann said she sees the photos as a way to picture “one’s inner child or future aspirations.”

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